In the following interview, David Contarino, co-founder of Kentucky Family Values, a PAC founded in 2011 with the express intent of promoting positive policies for middle and working-class Kentucky families, opens up about the organization’s mission and goals.
Q: Why was Kentucky Family Values founded and what do you do to support Kentucky families?
David Contarino: We are a political action committee working closely with Kentucky educators, and organizations representing thousands of construction, auto, distillery and factory workers and other hardworking citizens to advance policies that make Kentucky a more welcoming and positive environment for working and middle-class families. We serve to challenge politicians and political groups who prioritize special interests over the needs of Kentucky families.
Q: What are some ideals that Kentucky Family Values has fought for in the past?
David Contarino: We have worked tirelessly to support candidates who work to create good jobs, raise the minimum wage, and promote equal and good pay for our commonwealth’s hard-working men and women. Our main purpose is to promote and support those people who will fight to ensure that Kentucky is a healthy and productive environment for the working men and women throughout our Commonwealth.
Q: Does Kentucky Family Values support the tax increase on working-class citizens passed this year by the Republican legislature?
David Contarino: Definitely not, no… Kentucky Family Values strongly opposes the Republican tax plan, which has imposed hefty sales tax increases on Kentucky families and non-profit groups – while at the same time providing tax cuts for special interest groups and the wealthy. While average Kentucky families have seen tax hikes on everyday services, people making $400,000 per year saw an average tax cut of $7,000 this year. That is not fair or good for our community.
Q: What is your organization’s view on Governor Bevin’s attempted JCPS school takeover?
David Contarino: The governor has gone on public record attacking the Jefferson County Public School system and educators themselves. This is an unfair assault on the hard-working and dedicated educators of the system who recently banded together on social media to invite the governor to see the positive changes that are happening within the county’s schools. We believe that a state government takeover here will not only take away local control from the democratically elected school board, it will also open the door for a further loss of autonomy for our classroom educators and damage the progress made for our kids.
Q: How would the recently passed (and now overturned) “secret” bill regarding public employee pensions pose a potential threat to the quality of life for Kentuckians?
David Contarino: It’s pretty simple. Kentucky Family Values believes that cutting public worker pensions will make it more difficult to recruit and retain some of our most valuable assets: our teachers and emergency personnel. Republican politicians passed this bill in a partisan and secret way and it is not surprising the court found it illegal. However, Republican leaders have pledged to pass it again if they cannot win in court, so voters know what to do if they want to stand up for Kentucky’s educators—vote in November!
Q: So, Kentucky Family Values supports politicians and candidates who oppose pension cuts?
David Contarino: Absolutely. We have been very vocal and active in our support for those who would vote to overturn this unfair bill. Kentucky Family Values believes that public service workers such as firefighters, teachers, and police officers, deserve to be treated with more respect. They have earned their pensions and we should fight to protect them.
Q: So ultimately Kentucky’s pension bill was recently struck down. You must be very happy with this victory for Kentucky’s educators and other public employees.
David Contarino: Absolutely; however we expect the Republicans to appeal. It is our job to ensure that our Kentucky teachers, firefighters, police and other hardworking public employees continue to receive the benefits they deserve. We encourage all voters to let their voices be heard by contacting their respective representatives and voting for those candidates and representatives who will support our educators and other public service workers. We will continue to fight for and support those candidates that put Kentucky first.
Q: Why did you found Kentucky Family Values?
David Contarino: My wife is a Kentucky native and when she and I moved our family here in 2011, I knew I wanted to be involved in our local community. I believed that the best way to do that was to promote candidates and policies that help middle and working-class families maintain a reasonable standard of living.
Q: Why is education such a hot button topic for you?
David Contarino: My wife and I have chosen to raise our family here. Both of my children have been through Jefferson County Public Schools; one is still there. This is where we belong, and we will never stop trying to ensure that our children – and every generation – have access to a quality public education.
Q: How did KFV support Linda Belcher in her recent stunning Special Election win in House District 49?
David Contarino: Kentucky Family Values conducted independent communications and a strong grass roots organizational campaign to support Democrat Linda Belcher. Ms. Belcher won by 36 points in a Republican heavy district, a district that in fact was carried by Republican Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election by nearly 50 points! Ms. Belcher’s victory against Rebecca Johnson is to-date the biggest Democratic turnaround in the nation.
Q: Why is supporting House Rep. Belcher so important for the Commonwealth?
David Contarino: House Representatives Belcher is a lifelong resident of Kentucky. She was born here and received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Eastern Kentucky University and Western Kentucky University. She is a long-time educator and former school principal who understands our school system. However, Linda Belcher needs more colleagues in Frankfort who will work with her to protect Kentucky’s schools and working families. That is why this year’s election is so important.
Q: Where do you see the future of education in Kentucky?
David Contarino: In an ideal world, our schools will be fully funded and our educators given access to livable wages and quality benefits. I believe we can do this in a fiscally sound way, if we reject the reckless politics of Frankfort that put powerful special interests ahead of hardworking Kentucky families
David Contarino is a businessman, former public official and seasoned political consultant. He served as the chief of staff for former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson before moving to Kentucky. He has worked with pro-family candidates and organizations throughout Kentucky and the entire nation. During the last three decades, David Contarino has put his experience in politics, strategy, campaign management, and media consulting to work for the People. David Contarino currently lives in Louisville and is president of Contarino & Associates, LLC. In 2016, he became the Chairman of Kentucky Family Values.